Dog sleeping in bed? Pros and cons of co-sleeping with dogs

19 May 2021

Co-sleeping with dogs can have benefits (and downsides) for us and our furry friends. Find out what they are, and ensure a good night's sleep for both of you.

two dogs sleeping in bed on white sheets

Fact: Your dog loves being close to their favorite human (that’s you). Also fact: You love snuggling up with your dog. But to have your dog sleeping in bed with you – is that really a good idea? Some people will say no, but those people probably don’t have all the facts. That’s why we wanted to give you all the info you need – including the benefits and downsides of sleeping with dogs – so you can decide whether letting your dog(s) sleep in bed is right for you. And if you decide the answer is no, we’ve got tips to help you find the right spot for your dog to sleep.

A Brief History of (Co-)sleeping with Dogs

Sleeping together in bed with dogs (which you can call co-sleeping if you’re feeling fancy) may come naturally to you. And it’s no surprise – dogs and humans have been sleeping together for centuries, across cultures1. It’s an ancient practice.

Back in the day, domesticated dogs would share sleeping quarters with their early human guardians. And in return, protect and alert them to predators or danger. Plus, they helped us keep warm at night in a time when home heating options were…. limited. Over the centuries, this human-dog bond helped humans (and dogs) survive through difficult times, including cold weather2.

Some anthropologists even think the urge to sleep close to one another (both for dogs and humans) might actually be stored in our DNA2. Just imagine a toddler cuddling and dozing off with a four-legged friend – it happens almost automatically.

In short, there’s nothing more natural than wanting to curl up with your pup.

But before you start shopping for dog-friendly blankets, take a look at both the benefits and downsides of of letting your dog sleep in bed with you.

human with dog sleeping in bed

Benefits of a dog sleeping in bed

Sharing your bed with your dog can be good for you, despite what your friends say. And you would be far from alone – one American Kennel Club study found that 45% of people welcome their dog into their bed3.

Here are just some of the benefits of sleeping with your dog:

  • Cold feet? Not anymore, with a doggo curled up next to your toes. Remember, sleeping with a dog can help us stay warm at night.
  • Feeling anxious? Sharing the bed with your dog can have a calming effect.
  • Want to feel that fuzzy feeling? Co-sleeping boosts oxytocin (a.k.a. “the love hormone”) which strengthens the bond between you and your dog.
  • Feeling anxious? Sleeping with your dog can help you feel more secure. Plus, they can alert you if they sense something out of the usual.
  • Still need convincing? You get to wake up every day with your best friend.

Beware – once you invite your dog to your bed, it might not be easy to take back that invitation. Also, you’ll want to teach your dog where to sleep in the bed, so that you can both be comfortable.

With all the benefits of having a dog, it’s no surprise that sleeping with your fur-baby can also have a positive impact on your well-being.

But it’s not always so simple. Below are some downsides to sleeping with your dog in bed, which might make you decide against it.

Downsides of a dog sleeping in bed

It’s not all sunshine and smiles. In fact, sleeping with a dog can get messy. Here’s a few reasons why not to let your dog get in your bed:

  • Your dog will likely bring hair, dirt, dust, and other allergens into bed with them. Not good if you have allergies.
  • They may interfere with your sleep cycle. Dogs have different sleep schedules, and might end up waking you up at odd hours. If you’re already a light sleeper, or have insomnia, sleeping with your dog may not be the best for you.
  • Sick dogs, puppies, new dogs, or dogs who are not yet house trained yet are not the best candidates for sleeping in bed. You don’t want an unexpected wet surprise at 3 in the morning!
  • Some dogs may become territorial about their spot in the bed. Set clear boundaries around where you sleep, especially if your dog shows signs of aggression or dominance.
  • Letting your dog sleep in bed could also increase your exposure to zoonotic diseases or parasites, like ticks. Ick!
  • If you or your dog have an open wound or illness, disease transmission could be a risk (although this is very rare).
  • Like a small child, your furry friend could fall off the bed and injure themselves.
  • Last but not least, your partner may not like having the dog in bed.

If any of these factors cool you off from the idea of sleeping with your dog, it might be best to choose another spot for your dog.

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Why your dog wants to sleep in bed with you

It’s not just you who finds it nice to be close to your dog at night. Dogs love it too. As pack animals, dogs satisfy their instinct for safety and comfort by staying close to their pack mates. They may also feel the instinct to guard you at night.

Dogs are also instinctive cuddlers – snuggling up to you helps them releases oxytocin, the love hormone we mentioned earlier5. It’s especially important for dogs that suffer from separation anxiety, who calm themselves when they get to sleep in bed with you. The myth that separation anxiety or aggression in dogs is caused by co-sleeping is just that. A myth.

Conclusion on dogs sleeping in bed with you

Ultimately, you should decide where your dog sleeps at night, and what’s best for your family. There’s nothing wrong with a dog sleeping in bed with you, or your dog having their own designated sleeping space. No matter which sleeping arrangement you choose, you and your dog can still enjoy a close bond. The most important thing is that everyone is happy and healthy, and gets a good night’s sleep!

For more insights on why dogs love to sleep with us in bed, check out this video by Animal Wised, or read more about understanding your dog’s sleeping behavior.

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